Despite it's many problems and consistent attempts to get me to leave its borders, France is a beautiful country full of beautiful people and I will be very sad to leave it. While this post might not be as detailed as my previous rant, the good things far outweigh the bad. Here's some examples of things I love about France.
1) The French! Who would have thought, with all the stereotypes and propaganda out there, that the French are really lovely, warm people? Maybe it's because we speak French, maybe it's because we aren't tourists, but we've had very few bad experiences with individual Frenchmen. I've found that a simple "Bonjour" goes a long way toward making people friendly toward you. The other day we were in Beaune, a small town near Dijon, eating lunch in a little sandwich shop. We ended up chatting a little with the couple next to us, and before we knew it, they had written down their address and phone numbers with the insistence that we come stay with them, should we need a place. I'm not convinced this would ever happen in the States. Example #2: Just today some colleagues and I wanted to go to a village pretty far away, and since there wasn't any public transport, we decided to hitchhike (sorry, Mom!). Within minutes someone had stopped and took us about halfway, where it wasn't long before we got another ride the rest of the way. In addition to the relationships we've had with strangers, there is of course the everyday French friends and co-workers we associated with, who never ceased to amaze me with their kindness and generosity. You may remember Sandrine, who invited us for Christmas dinner with her family, threw me a birthday party, and always made sure to include us in any interesting things happening in our area. There was also Catherine and Pierre, who helped move us out of our apartment and into their house, and who put up with our comings and goings and general stress for over a week. In short, French people are amazing!
2) The Food. Pain au chocolat. Café. Foie gras. Baguette. Cheese. Need I say more?
3) The countryside. France is a beautiful, beautiful country. It's full of beaches, mountains, caves, valleys, farms, forests, and cliffs. I feel I could never get my fill of the natural beauty that exists here.
4) Monuments, museums, and other points of interest. France has a wealth of things to do. It has so much history! It's a nice change after being in America, which is such a young country, and being in Africa, which, while old, doesn't have much to show for it.